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A first-half try-scoring blitz has handed the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s an emphatic 54-12 Round 8 National Youth Competition win over the Newcastle Knights today.

The team raced in six tries in the opening 40 minutes for a 32-6 half-time lead, with Aaron Payne’s young charges posting three more in the second half to complete the 10-tries-to-one rout.

At one stage, the young Cowboys’ scoring was keeping pace with the clock as Payne’s outside backs ran riot, with skilful halves Mitch Dunn and Jake Clifford the architects of most of the good attack.

Only two NQ backs failed to score, with dangerous winger Michael Carroll posting a classy hat-trick, while Clifford crossed twice – including a superb solo effort where he doggedly chased his own bomb and scooped up the spilled ball – and booted seven goals.

Coupled with last week’s 40-6 dismantling of the Dragons, the Cowboys have scored 94 points and conceded just 18 in their past two outings, giving them a 6-1 record and keeping in sight of the perennially ladder-leading Panthers outfit.

And while Payne would have been pleased with another big win, he would not have liked the ill-discipline and lack of attention to detail that led to the Knights’ first-half try.

Eyeing a clean sheet for the first 40, the home side had two serious apses of concentration – one in attack and one in defence – which allowed the Knights to score right on half time.

The second half disintegrated as a contest once the result was a foregone conclusion, with errors on both sides robbing the match of the free-flowing nature seen in spades in the first half.

Still, this young outfit are winning games and winning them well, no mean feat given the amount of disruption week-to-week with the playing roster.

Payne hasn’t used the same 17 twice this year, and is unlikely to next week with three players back from suspension and dynamic prop Solomon Vasuvulagi looking to have sustained a leg injury during the match.

The team’s next assignment is another top eight team, the Parramatta Eels, at home next Friday.

NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS NYC 54 (Michael Carroll 3, Jake Clifford 2, Kurt Wiltshire, Mitch Dunn, Calum Gahan, Murray Taulagi, Cody Maughan tries; Clifford 7 goals) def NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS NYC 12 (Matt Cooper, Jack Johns tries; Johns 2 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.